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BlackRock’s Fink pushes back after firm criticized in Republican debate

FILE PHOTO: Larry Fink, Chairman and CEO of BlackRock, speaks during an interview with CNBC on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., April 14, 2023. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo   BLK +0.33% Add to/Remove from Watchlist Add to Watchlist Add Position

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By David Randall

NEW YORK (Reuters) – BlackRock (NYSE:BLK) Chief Executive Larry Fink said on Thursday that the firm was unfairly targeted by candidates in the fourth Republican presidential debate, calling it a “sad commentary on the state of American politics.”

BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, has faced a backlash from state pension plans in Republican-led Florida, Louisiana and Missouri for the firm’s ESG policies, which filter possible investments based on environmental, social, and governance screens. Overall, the firm lost about $4 billion in 2022 in assets under management as a result of its ESG stance while pulling in $230 billion in inflows.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis criticized the firm in Wednesday’s debate for using its “economic power” to instill a “left wing agenda.”

“The only agenda we have is delivering for our clients,” Fink wrote in a LinkedIn post. “One candidate last night claimed that BlackRock was somehow deterring American energy companies from drilling for oil. The reality: BlackRock clients have more than $170 billion invested in American energy companies and just last month, we announced a joint venture with one of America’s largest energy companies to help develop new technology.”

Shares of BlackRock rose 0.5% in afternoon trading, slightly behind the 0.7% gain in the benchmark S&P 500.

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